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Transport / Mass transit

Is the Islamic Republic of Iran plotting to steal Crossrail's trains?

Western politicians seem to worry quite a lot about the Iranian government. About its nuclear ambitions. Its treatment of women and human rights abuses. Its attitude towards Israel or Saudi Arabia.

One thing those politicians don’t generally spend their time worrying about is that the Iranians are secretly plotting to steal our trains. Which is odd because they absolutely, definitely are.

On Saturday, Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani cut the proverbial red tape on work to electrify the railway line between the country’s two largest cities, Tehran and Mashhad.

Here’s a screenshot of the Railway Gazette story reporting the news:

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And here’s the same image, blown up:


That train, some people have noticed, looks a tiny bit familiar. Like this guy: 


We’ve definitely seen that train before:


We asked Crossrail’s press office about this. Were they concerned about this flagrant breach of copyright? Were they worried, indeed, that Iran was actively plotting to steal their trains? Would they be imposing any sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran?

Crossrail declined to comment.

The 926km line which the upgrade concerns runs across the northern side of Iran. It links Tehran, the capital (a metropolis of around 16m people), to Mashhad (the second city, with around 3m) to its east.

If all goes well, it’s expected to take 42 months.

It probably won’t actually use Crossrail trains.

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